From Fart Hare to la-la land, our public broadcasters clearly know what they’re doing

The SABC and its head, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, have the full backing of the ruling party.

The SABC and its head, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, have the full backing of the ruling party.

THE FIFTH COLUMN

When I heard the SABC was banning any broadcast of violence, I immediately turned off Tom and Jerry and switched to the public broadcaster to be educated on pacifism and how to solve society’s problems by not showing society’s problems. 

As a thirtysomething male, I bought into the concept because I’m still feeling the effects of the apartheid government’s ban on porn that set me up for a life of celibacy free from the evils of sex. Sadly, despite their efforts, I figured it all out when in my late teens I noticed condom dispensers in public toilets and discovered late-night porn on trailblazing e.tv. 

Today, however, I have no problem believing the SABC can prevent me from performing violent acts for the rest of my life. 

Just like the previous regime, the public broadcaster has the backing of the ruling party. Plus, they’re going from strength to strength under Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who said his organisation had a mandate to educate the people that they, ironically, aimed to fulfil with self-censorship — or a broadcast ban, as he put it. 

I’m always up for education so I took a seat in front of my TV and was immediately treated to top-notch, 100% South African content covering the news with a slight fear of protest and a distinct ANC flavour. 

On SABC 2, born and bred South Africans Helen Zille and Solly Msimanga stood side by side in front of puddles of mud ineffectually, though peacefully, solving the problem of puddles of mud in townships simply by standing in front of puddles of mud in townships. 

The next clip illustrated the deficiencies of peaceful warmongering as it broadcast Julius Malema inciting violence in muted tones in front of an audience; the two members shown appearing disinterested and not thinking of anything in particular. 

The broadcast suddenly moved to a prize-giving ceremony of sorts rewarding school pupils that appeared to belong to some kind of peace corps or possibly passed a crowd control test. Miraculously, Motsoeneng received an award but was not present, so his certificate was calmly walked off screen, presumably to be delivered by white pigeon. 

The message was clear: All is fine in a country that just last week appeared to be burning to the ground. Zille and company are campaigning, but not to any great effect, and Motsoeneng is raking in the awards.

Reassured, I switched to the SABC’s sister network, ANN7, which ran a belated report on centenary celebrations at “Fart Hare” in Alice, reaffirming my belief that our news channels knew what they were doing and that the Eastern Cape education department did, in fact, have a wicked sense of humour.

The schooling continued later that evening, when I was given a lesson on how to interrupt someone mid-sentence by SABC2 producers cutting to commercials for the 10th time during Person of Interest.

In the ad break, people literally flipped over cars in Outsurance’s latest ground-breaking spot. They were clearly bending reality to fulfil their own perverted agenda, which is not something I expected to see on a state-owned broadcaster committed to providing citizens with the know-how on how to deal with life’s problems.

 
JS Smit

JS Smit

JS Smit is a Cape Town-based freelance writer. Formally trained as a copywriter, he took a break from ads in 2010 to write a blog for the Mail & Guardian's Thought Leader and since 2015 has written for the Mail & Guardian. Read more from JS Smit

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